The Jurassic Coast
185 million years of history

Jurassic cliffs at Sidmouth

What is the connection between the Jurassic Coast in East Devon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon?

In 2001 UNESCO awarded the Jurassic Coast, from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, World Heritage Status. The Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon are also World Heritage Sites.

It’s easy to understand why the Great Barrier Reef should be recognised as an important site but why is this piece of coastline so special? In this 95 mile long stretch of coastline you can see millions of years of the earth’s history sequentially exposed in dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, coastal stacks and barrier beaches.

The rocks tilt from west to east with the oldest rocks at Exmouth and the youngest rocks at the eastern end of the site at Studland Bay.

The sea constantly erodes the rocks, exposing more of the fascinating history of the landscape. Recognising the importance of education about our heritage the local councils have made great efforts to educate and inform the local people and the many visitors who flock to the area.

In 2005 these endeavours were recognised by the World Travel Tourism Council when they named the Jurassic Coast as the winner of the Destination Award, ahead of several other important sites. What factors prompted their choice?

The panel chairman says: "Protecting the places that matter most to us is vital. The Earth's cultural and natural heritage must be maintained if future generations are going to benefit economically and socially from travel and tourism. The winners of the 2005 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are demonstrating that business success and responsible tourism can go hand in hand."

Tourism is an important part of the local economy. Providing it's managed in a responsible way it brings benefits to everyone, visitors and residents alike.

Sally King of the World Heritage team, says that future "tourism and marketing work will continue to emphasise the importance of the environment. We are determined to help local people and visitors enjoy the Site, both now and in the future, and to maintain the Site in at least as good condition as it is now. This can only be achieved through a sustainable and responsible approach to tourism."

The best way to enjoy the Jurassic Coast

Devon County Council is continuing to make serious efforts to help people to understand and appreciate the World Heritage Site. Among the ways they are doing this is by promoting out-of-season tourism, offering visitors and locals real alternatives to using their cars and providing quality information on the Jurassic Coast.

For example there is a regular, daily bus service that runs the entire length of this beautiful section of coastline. Passengers can get on and off the bus at the various stops along the way, enabling them to enjoy the beautiful scenery and picturesque towns and villages along the way.

Among the many benefits of using the bus are:

  • Low floor double-decker buses are easy for disabled people and those with small children and pushchairs to get on and off easily.
  • Buses carry more people, thus reducing traffic on the roads.
  • If you don’t have to drive and watch the road you can enjoy the outstanding scenery.
  • In some places there is very limited car parking, if you’re on the bus you don’t need to park.
  • Buses are a sustainable form of transport, so are kinder to the environment


  • Further information can be found by visiting the official Jurassic Coast Trust website

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